By Jonathan Gilbert, 9 August 2013. Source: Time Magazine
Soybean fields outside of Campo Nueve, Paraguay, on Dec. 17, 2010. Photo: NOAH FRIEDMAN-RUDOVSKY / BLOOMBERG / GETTY IMAGES
Emilio Arce lives in fear of the soy plantations that edge ever closer to his home in eastern Paraguay, the landlocked nation’s heartland of grain production. “They’re just seven miles away now,” he says. Arce, 54, is a subsistence farmer in the province of Caaguazú, where he sows manioc, red corn and beans. But his livelihood is under threat. Thousands of communities across rural Paraguay claim their lands are being poisoned by the expansion of genetically modified (GM) soy. And with the inauguration of newly-elected president Horacio Cartes, a right-wing businessman, this month, government policies are expected to favor soy farmers and further imperil campesinos, the people of the countryside.
Paraguay is the world’s fourth biggest exporter of soy, a crop that has been dubbed “green gold.” Its harvest – likely to reach a record 8.4 million tonnes this season – is mostly shipped as raw soybeans to the European Union, where it is used in cattle feed, or to Argentina for the manufacture of biofuels. More than three million hectares of soybean are currently sown in Paraguay, nearly triple the area in 1998, and agricultural exports will account for the majority of the country’s predicted 13 percent GDP growth this year. But the success of soy and Paraguay’s agroexport model has come at a cost. Continue reading
By Chris Lang, April 10 2013. Source: REDD-Monitor
Photo: Survival International
The Paraguayan Chaco covers an area about the size of Poland. Thorn forests provide habitat to a wide range of species, including jaguar, ocelot, puma, tapir and giant armadillo. It is home to indigenous peoples, such as the Ayoreo, some of whom are uncontacted, the last uncontacted indigenous tribe south of the Amazon.
It is also being rapidly deforested as cattle ranchers from Brazil move in and clear the forest. Also involved in clearing the land are Mennonites, descendants of people who fled religious persecution in Russia and eastern-Europe in the 1930s. Between 2006 and 2010, one tenth of the Paraguayan Chaco was converted to ranches. Last year, the New York Times reported that satellite analyses by environmental group Guyra revealed that 1.2 million hectares of the Gran Chaco (which extends into Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil) had been cleared in the previous two years.
This short film by Survival International documents the impact of the deforestation on the Ayoreo indigenous people in Paraguay:
Filed under Biodiversity, Carbon Trading, Commodification of Life, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Illegal logging, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, REDD, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests
March 4, 2013. Source: Weekly News Update on the Americas
Judges in Córdoba City, the capital of the central Argentine province of Córdoba, issued an order on Feb. 25 suspending construction of a corn seed-drying plant by the Missouri-based biotech giant Monsanto Company. Provincial Labor Court judges Silvia Díaz and Luis Farías cited potential “environmental risks” as a basis for the suspension, which was in response to an appeal by the Argentine Law Foundation Club. The company plans to build the 27-hectare facility at a cost of $300 million in Malvinas Argentinas, a working-class suburb located 14 km from the provincial capital. Malvinas Argentinas residents are demanding a referendum on the planned construction and have held protest marches, including one on Feb. 21. (La Mañana de Córdoba 2/21/13; Télam (Argentina) 2/25/13 via Terra.ar; MercoPress (Montevideo) 2/27/13)
In related news, Monsanto announced on Feb. 26 that it would suspend collection of royalties for the use of its genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready soybean seeds in Brazil while it seeks to extend its Brazilian patent on the technology to 2014. Brazil’s Superior Court of Justice (STJ) ruled against the firm the previous week, but Monsanto said it planned to appeal to the Supreme Federal Court(STF). Brazil, the world’s second-largest soybean exporter, is a major market for Monsanto. (Reuters 2/26/13)
Soybean farmers in Paraguay, the fourth-largest soybean exporter, are also opposing a Monsanto patent extension, but on Feb. 19 Judge Miguel Angel Rodas rejected their request for emergency action against the firm. About 95% of the beans produced in Paraguay contain Roundup Ready. Meanwhile, de facto president Federico Franco has authorized sale of Monsanto’s Intacta RR2 Pro seeds, which are supposed to protect crops from caterpillars. (Thomson Reuters News & Insight 2/19/13)
By Pedro Servin, December 5 2012. Source: Associated Press
In this Nov 13 2012 photo, a farmer walks behind black flags representing 11 landless farmers who were killed during clashes with police in the Yvy Pyta settlement near Curuguaty, Paraguay. Photo: Jorge Saenz/AP Photo
ASUNCION – Lucia Aguero stood with the other farmers in the standoff. About 300 of them had occupied the rich politician’s land that they insisted wasn’t legally his. On the other side of the clearing were some 200 riot police. She watched as the two negotiators walked up to each other and began talking.
And then the shooting started.
The negotiators were both hit. The young woman threw herself to the ground, shielding a friend’s 4-year-old boy beneath her as she felt a bullet’s sting in her thigh. In the end, 17 were dead, including the men who were trying to resolve the six-week-old occupation. Continue reading
2 December 2012. Source: BBC News
Vidal Vega’s supporters were involved in a deadly land dispute in eastern Paraguay
The leader of a landless peasant movement in Paraguay involved in a land dispute with a powerful politician has been shot dead.
Vidal Vega had been co-operating with an inquiry into the deaths of 11 of his supporters and six police officers.
They died last June in an operation to evict farmers from land which activists say was illegally grabbed by a late senator in the 1960s.
Then-President Fernando Lugo was ousted over his handling of the deadly clash.
A prosecutor investigating his murder said two gunmen arrived at his home in Curuguaty in the eastern province of Canindeyu and shot him early on Sunday.
The prosecutor said police had later arrested a suspect who matched the description of one of the gunmen, but did not speculate on a motive.
He said there was no evidence so far linking Mr Vega’s murder to his role in the investigation into the killings in June.
Mr Vega, 48, was expected to testify at the trial.
His movement of landless peasants had lobbied the Paraguayan government for many years to redistribute farmland in Canindeyu occupied by late senator Blas Riquelme more than 50 years ago.
They say the land was illegally taken during the military rule of Gen Alfredo Stroessner and distributed among his allies.
In May some landless activists moved into the farm.
September 19th, 2012. Source: Prensa Latina
Photo: Prensa Latina
Asuncion - The overthrown Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo said on Wednesday that U.S. multinational Monsanto and the coup d’etat government currently in power in Paraguay are sowing death and destruction.
Lugo took part in the closing ceremony at an agro-ecological fair sponsored by peasant and indigenous organizations as part of the Week of the Seed, which aims at protesting the marketing of transgenic seeds to sow cotton and corn.
During his speech, Lugo emphasized that his administration worked for two years to recover the native seed previously and successfully used, but the June parliamentary coup d’etat put the multinationals, especially that of Monsanto in the driver’s seat, to exterminate the native seeds.
Great multinationals like Monsanto have been sowing death in Paraguay’s native seed stock since the coup, but we will make our traditional seed blossom again, Lugo assured the crowd.
by Yves Engler, 15 August 2012, Source: UpsideDown World
Six weeks ago the left-leaning president of Paraguay Fernando Lugo was ousted in what some called an “institutional coup”. Upset with Lugo for disrupting 61-years of one party rule, Paraguay’s traditional ruling elite claimed he was responsible for a murky incident that left 17 peasants and police dead and the senate voted to impeach the president.
The vast majority of countries in the hemisphere refused to recognize the new government. The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) suspended Paraguay’s membership after Lugo’s ouster, as did the MERCOSUR trading bloc. Last week the Council on Hemispheric Affairs reported: “Not a single Latin American government has recognized [Federico] Franco’s presidency.”
But Canada was one of only a handful of countries in the world that immediately recognized the new government. “Canada notes that Fernando Lugo has accepted the decision of the Paraguayan Senate to impeach him and that a new president, Federico Franco, has been sworn in,” said Diane Ablonczy, deputy foreign minister, the day after the coup. This statement was premature. After a confusing initial statement, Lugo rejected his ouster and announced the creation of a parallel government.
Source: Mercopress, August 8, 2012
The special Unasur commission that is monitoring and following political events in Paraguay since the removal of Fernando Lugo as president and his replacement by Federico Franco, is expected to make a first presentation next Thursday said Peruvian Foreign affairs minister Rafael Roncagliolo.
“Despite the fact the countries which make up the Union of South American Nations do not have ambassadors currently in Asuncion, delegations are working on a report to be presented on 9 August for consideration of the high level meeting the following Monday, August 13” anticipated Roncagliolo.
The minister said that diplomats from the different embassies are drafting the report on the Paraguayan situation, and “most probably on Monday following its consideration there will be an official statement from the Unasur special committee in charge of monitoring Paraguay”.
Note: As a companion piece, please see the article at the bottom of this post titled, “Paraguay: coup backers push for US military bases”
–The GJEP Team
by Francesca Fiorentini
July 4, 2012, Buenos Aires
It has been nearly two weeks since the parliament of Paraguay orchestrated an institutional coup that removed President Fernando Lugo from power and installed vice president Fernando Franco in his place, a mere 9 months before the next presidential elections.
Reading articles coming out of South America, I have been trying to wrap my head around not just what happened in Paraguay but what it could mean for the region. And I’m afraid it’s not good. When one connects the dots – many of which require further investigation–it suddenly feels as though the gains that countries in the region have made toward multi-lateral cooperation in order to guarantee economic and political sovereignty and are dangerously vulnerable.
I have always been skeptical of claims by Hugo Chavez or even anti-militarist voices here in the region that believe that the U.S. has not let go of its plans for the region in its fulfillment of “Full Spectrum Dominance”—controlling natural resources indirectly through elite puppet governments and directly through the threat of military force. Between the U.S’ refocus on the Middle East and the rise of left-leaning governments in Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, and Uruguay, the idea of the region falling victim to the kinds of imperial/neoliberal bullying of the 70s, 80s, and 90s seemed both politically overblown and strategically unfeasible.
I am no longer so sure.
In this week’s Earth Segment on KPFK Pacifica radio’s Sojourner Truth show, Dr. Miguel Lovera, former National Secretary for Plant Safety of Paraguay discusses the recent Paraguay coup, the link to the expansion of GMO soy plantations and the logging of the Gran Chaco forest, home to the Ayoreo indigenous people.
Global Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show for Earth Segment interviews every Thursday.
To listen to or download the podcast, click here
To view Orin Langelle’s photo essay of the Ayoreo in the Chaco, click here